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Rite of Spring

 

 

Fred Tanguay

SIXTH YEAR AS DIRECTOR OF WINDSOR LITTLE LEAGUE
Day Job: VP, People’s United Insurance Agency

What’s the best part about being league director? “Opening day, when everything comes together, is almost like a rite of spring. The best thing about the job is interacting with the parents and the kids and giving them a format to enjoy themselves.”
How can Little League help prepare kids for life outside of sports? “They learn teamwork, how tow in gracefully, and how to lose gracefully Even if these kids aren’t going to play in high school or college they can understand the game. They can teach their kids and can watch it with their fathers or grandfathers. But the teamwork aspect really is the most important thing.”

Gary Druckenmiller
SECOND YEAR AS DIRECTOR OF WEST HARTFORD LITTLE LEAGUE
Day Job: VP, eBusiness, eVariant

What’s the best part about being league director?
West Hartford is partnered with Positive Coaching Alliance, a nationally syndicated association that emphasizes a positive experience in youth sports. “It instills the values of fairness and quality in terms of playing time,” Druckenmiller says. “The biggest thing is that we’re trying to instill positive coaching values as well.”
How can Little League help prepare kids for life outside of sports? “We try to do two things: make better baseball players and arguably the most important thing is that kids walk out with life lessons and learn about sportsmanship, camaraderie and teamwork.  Most of these kids won’t be going to the majors and a fair amount won’t be playing high school baseball.”

Eric Pritchard
FOURTH YEAR AS DIRECTOR OF AVON LITTLE LEAGUE
Day Job: VP, Print and Digital Marketing, Valassis Communications

What’s the best part about being league director?
“The beginning of the season, in the spring, just to see the young kids excited
to be out there,” Pritchard says. “One thing we talk about on the league board is that baseball is a game of accountability, which is a good place for kids to learn how to succeed and fail. It’s not a sport where you can hide; if you’re at third base and a ball is hit to you, you either make the play or you don’t. Striking out is part of the game. It’s part of life’s lessons: how you bounce back and how you recover.”
How can Little League prepare kids for life outside of sports? “We hope they gain a love and appreciation for the game of baseball. Thirty years from now we hope the same young boys will be coming back as fathers and enjoying baseball with their sons.”

Chris Walker
FOURTH YEAR AS DIRECTOR OF WESTBROOK LITTLE LEAGUE
Day Job: Shareholder and Regional Sales Director at PowerPay

What’s the best part about being league director?
“One of the most fulfilling parts is just seeing the kids playing baseball, teaching them teamwork and having fun. Winning is the bonus. Sometimes you can see the kids starting out are a little shy and then as time goes on they get better and better and when they get that first great hit the look on their face as well as their teammates’ faces is priceless. We are a small town so opening day is a huge event. There’s 250 kids and around 800 to 1,000 people total.”
What kind of special events does your league do? “Westbrook hosts the Shoreline Buddy Baseball day. This will be the third year we’ve done it. Special needs children are paired with middle or high school students and get to hit and run the bases.”

Don Longtin
Day Job: Retired Executive Manager at UTC, founder and president of Connecticut Girls Basketball League, Vice President of Glastonbury Girls Basketball League.

What made you want to keep running the league? “I love having young kids playing the game,” he says. “We’re an unusual league in that equal playing time is mandated, both offensively and defensively. We’re not so much in the baseball business as the kid business. The mission isn’t to create pro players but to advocate the game of baseball and have kids enjoy it. Hopefully one day they will be coaching and be good citizens.”
Have you had any former players come back and coach? “A ton of them. The kids I had years ago are coaching their own kids. That’s really gratifying. The Little League motto is courage, loyalty and character. We have sportsmanship awards; the kids get recognized on a wall of fame. We give them the all-star treatment, with shirts and hats, practices, and then a game. If they walk into the local 99 Restaurant wearing the shirt they get a free meal as long as the shirt fits. I gave [the restaurant] a big trophy a few years ago, and they’ll bring that out to the table while the family is eating.”